Tumbling FAQ’s

Here are some important frequently asked questions regarding tumbling in cheerleading.

  1. What is Tumbling? Tumbling is the floor aspect of gymnastics, usually performed on a mat, sprung floor, or some kind of tumbling track.
  2. How do I learn to tumble? Many people learn to tumble on their own, from videos or from friends. The safest place to learn and master tumbling skills is in a controlled environment with qualified coaches and safe surroundings.
  3. 3 P’s of Tumbling
    1. Practice – You should spend lots of time on the basics so that you build a strong foundation
    2. Perfection – Once you achieve a skill, be sure you spend time making it more perfect by executing clean technique over and over again. Once is not Perfect.
    3. Progress– Once you have done your practice and you have perfected your skills, then you should be able to move forward with more success.
  4. Why do I have to spend time on lower level skills when I just want my back handspring or tuck? Just doing a back handspring or tuck over and over may or may not help you achieve your desired result. It is important to spend time on handstands, bridges, kickovers and conditioning. The top tumblers in the world often spend entire practice sessions on handstands only. If you are unable to properly do all the basic steps, then doing a step above is going to be harder.
  5. What is the difference between Tumbling in Cheer Practice vs. Tumbling in class? Tumbling in Cheer practice is not designed to promote new skill development or even to foster the 3 P’s. Cheer practice is meant to use your tumbling skills already attained for the purpose of a team routine. Tumbling Classes focus on the 3 P’s on an individual basis. Tumbling classes involve warm-up, drills, skill development and perfection, as well as progress.
  6. What is the typical development path of a tumbler in cheerleading?
    1. Level 1 – rolls, roundoff, cartwheel, handstand, bridge, kick over, walkover
    2. Level 2 – standing back handspring, roundoff handspring, front handspring, Handspring stepout
    3. Level 3 – standing multiple back handsprings, toe touch back handspring, roundoff to tuck, front tuck, front walkover to round off to tuck
    4. Level 4 – standing tuck, standing back handspring tuck, standing back handspring layout, whips, front tuck step out to round off tuck/layout, round off to layout
    5. Level 5 – toe touch tuck, standing position to twisting skill, roundoff to twisting skill
  7. What if I just want to skip all this and move up levels? Of course, you can skip all those steps and get a higher skill, but it may not look as perfect as it should and it could lead to bad habits that cause pain and injury.
  8. My friend is moving faster than I am and they never take tumbling classes, so why should I? Each person is unique. Some possess a God-given gift and achieve skills in no time. For the vast majority of us, it takes attention to all the steps above in order to achieve our goals.
  9. Why is it that I spend time in class, practice and private lessons and I am not advancing? This could be for many reasons: the attention to your drills needs more focus, your conditioning and strength needs more work, your fear factor is in play, or your body is not in sync with your desires.
  10. What if I am afraid to tumble? Mental toughness is very important. Being afraid of tumbling can cause you to become stagnant in your development. Be sure you have confidence in the lower steps and have built some trust. Using a spotter is safe, but if you cannot break free from the spotter, even when you are capable, then you may not achieve your goals. Self-doubt or fear is dangerous in tumbling. Each tumbler has to take that “leap” in order to build self-confidence.
  11. I don’t tumble, so how is that impacting my team? The scoring system allows room for a small percentage of non-tumblers to be on a team without penalty. Each season the scoring system seems to change, so the team needs from year to year may change. If the team has too many non-tumblers, then the tumbling scores will affect the entire team and the overall score.
  12. Will I advance in cheerleading if I do not advance in tumbling? It is possible to advance if you are an elite flyer, base or back spot. You will definitely have a higher probability for advancement with more tumbling skills, but you are not completely lost if you never become an elite tumbler. If you are not an elite tumbler, then begin to focus on how you can become invaluable to a cheer team. Become the best flyer, base, jumper and dancer so no one can deny you as an asset to the team. Lacking one aspect means you need to excel in others.
  13. I don’t want to work hard: can’t I just be on a worlds team now? If you do not put in the time and train hard, then your growth in this sport, any sport and in life will not be what you desire. Put in the time and effort to reap the rewards.
  14. What do you suggest I do to ensure my tumbling success? To ensure better results, try a combination of tumbling classes, private lessons, open gym, workshops, weight training and cardio exercise. Work on your drills often. Pay attention to details:
    1. Are your hands and arms where they should be?
    2. Are you using the right muscles and techniques?
    3. Are you focused on the execution as much as the skill?


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